With the start of the new fiscal year right around the corner, last week the California state legislature moved a $171 billion budget proposal to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.
The proposal included compliance with specific requests presented by the Governor, among them an additional $2 billion rainy-day-reserve plus an additional half-billion dollars for early childhood education. The early childhood education increase will be spread over the next four years.
It appears K-12 schools will see a four percent overall increase in 2016-17. Although it is less than half of what was allocated last year it is still above the historical norm.
Some of the most noticeable inclusions in this year’s budget from an educational perspective is funding incentives aimed at closing the state’s teachers’ gap. The budget includes $20 million in grants for teacher’s aides and other school employees to pursue a teaching credential; $10 million in grants for colleges and universities to establish an integrated or blended teacher preparation program that would provide an opportunity for individuals to earn both a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential in four years; and a re-funding effort that includes $5 million for the California Center on Teaching Careers or Cal Teach. Cal Teach is a marketing and recruitment program for teachers—this is the first time the strategy has been funded since 2002.
The proposed budget included additional funding for early childhood education on one end of the spectrum and community colleges, CSU’s and UC’s on the other. However, some of the UC funding, $18.5 million to be exact, is contingent on the system’s ability to enroll 2,500 more California residents for the 2017-18 school year; while at the same time, capping non-residents’ enrollment. The UC system will also receive $20 million in one-time funding to provide outreach and support services for low-income and under-represented minority students. The CSU system will also receive a one-time award in the amount of $35 million to improve its four-year graduation rate with a special emphasis on underrepresented and low-income students.